child of the digital

The computer art is back.

Perplexing. Leila is five and she draws pictures of keyboards. It’s terrifying. She comes home with fences and princesses, houses and suns too. But it’s this darker, more complex artistic passages that concern me. Space bars. Keyboards.

They may seem arbitrary but they must mean something to her.

I know what keyboards mean to me.

far off places i can think and dream about

documentary trailers


second hand books, youtube

recipes for chicken kiev

the mandarin words for please and thank you

social networks by the dozens

aRt / phOtOs / exPReSsion

canada live podcasts (i love you!)

I wonder what keyboards mean to her.  It looks like this laptop has cinderella pearls.

Perhaps she thinks they’re friends.

i suppose she would think of:

her cousins on skype. Real.

“printables”. Little Mermaid: Real.

barbie videos: Real.

alphabets that sing and dance: Real.

a life of her own: Real.

The world of the computer must still seem mysterious to her. She is not quite certain what Mitchell and I use our computers for, but she knows that we use them a lot. If you asked her, she might tell you that “Mommy works on her chapters“, as she has seen me on the cusps of my most furious editing deadlines. She has witnessed the creation of spreadsheets to measure student progress, the information on the computer spilling out to file folders collapsed over one another and the keyboard, calculators and pencils strewn about.

Mitch and I wonder how we can appropriately integrate our technologies  gently into her life, so that she can see their uses – and not try to keep the the ipods, the iphones, and the bright, flashy moniters away. We want her to be involved. We want her to be smart. But she’s five, and she’s demanding, and she comes with peanut butter toast and popsicle sticks. Icky things that smear and streak.

Eventuaully, we’ll broach the topics of chat rooms and facebook. And the truth is, when I’m 39 and she’s 12, she’ll be blowing me clear out of the water.

She’ll be in lands i don’t recognize, playing games i can’t control.

And the truth is she’ll be happy there, like i was when i first sneaked out of the house, cut that terrible chemistry class and  – in first year university –  got my first email account:, a electronic message board for women following the band, phish. Wait a minute. I think i’m having  a breakthrough here.


On second thought, maybe I should embrace the keyboard art. It’s still art, after all.

This one even has a family in it. I like that.

It doesn’t mean she won’t love long walks on the beach, or sunsets, does it? Communication with real people, emotional connectivity? trees, bike rides? spring flowers that finally push through? i want these things to amaze her, not bore her because they’re not “the box”.

Share your experiences with kids and technology ~ please enlighten this discussion!


  1. This is so timely. I was just freaking out (mostly internally) yesterday about M’s complete infatuation with our phones.

    The thing is…he still prefers to just play with us instead of doing Thomas puzzles on the iphone.

    I’m more afraid of the day he gets the equivalent of a facebook account when he’s a pre-teen. Eeeek!

  2. Love today’s entry Mo! Maddy, 2, is a fan of Angry Birds on the iPhone, BunnyBop on the laptop and a variety of peekaboo and animal/alphabet games online. Her big sister, 5, plays virtual dressup and terrifies me by randomly clicking videos on youtube (no serious mis-clicks yet – unless you count the nomnom song).

    Then there are the times when you get a random question like “what is a manatee, mom?” and voila, facts, pictures, videos and sound effects at your fingertips. I can’t really complain though, their computer time is likely less than 5% of my own use. It seems that they would rather play with me, each other or their toys.

    I’ve tentatively made a plan. They will learn to use computers at home where I can monitor, help and hopefully instill some restraint. The computers will always be in a common area – no bedroom laptops (especially for teens) and, hopefully, no cell phones until they’re old enough to get a job and pay for one.

    I’m sure that our parents had similar concerns with cable tv in our youth and one big bonus for parents today is that our kids don’t have to settle for garbage in/garbage out. Computers generally and the internet in particular are the equivalent of having the absolute best encyclopedia — what better resource to plan your outdoor excursions?

    1. It’s true. Like i’d go to any national park without a map in tow. Maybe we should start geo-cachieng.

      Sounds like we may have the same arrangement. Monitor, monitor, and try to slow them down, like our parents did.

      We turned out okay, right?

  3. I know that Charlotte and Ana’s concept of communication is more technological than mine because when I say let’s call Nana they both go to the computer to Skype rather than to the telephone!!!
    I also remember when Ana was 3 and I asked her to help me “load” the dishwasher and she asked how that could be done because the dishwasher was not the computer (well actually she said pom-cooter as it was back in the day of her dyslexic moments with long words). Albeit this was when we had dial up and we had to wait a long time for pictures to “load” on our computer
    Love your blogs Mo, hope to see you soon. BIG hugs!!!

    1. Skype has been totally amazing for keeping our family together when we’re not – through new babes in arms to christmas days to gentle bedtime story reads. It does it all. Love the idea of “loading” the pom-cooter.

  4. Joe went through a phase of drawing video games consoles. We don’t own any of these, so unsure where he got the idea. But he’d come home from preschool with drawing of a ‘DS’ – and didn’t even know what a DS was, really – but this sketched out detailed picture with buttons and a screen and then explain to us what was going on in his game which had something to do with Micheal Jackson and waterslides.

    1. Funny! Video games consoles, just not for my family, although i hear the hula hooping one is pretty cool. Joe found out about them on the playground, Marti, and he probably copied the drawing too! Micheal Jackson and water slides. Priceless.

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